Cambridge School of Art works with The Culture Capital Exchange (TCCE) to devise and host events that facilitate knowledge exchange between the academic and arts, cultural and creative sectors, with a particular focus on resilience, health and digital creativity.
Dr Elena Cologni is Art, Health and Wellbeing 2023 Academic Lead for TCCE.
TCCE and ARU's first Arts and Health forum took place online on 21 February 2023. Contributors included ARU's Dr Elena Cologni and Emily Godden; Dr Cara Courage (consultant, change agent and academic); and Frances Alderton (Cultural Services and Events Manager at Cambridge City Council). It was chaired by Evelyn Wilson (Director, TCCE, and Co-Director, NCACE).
The session aimed to reflect, in light of the events of the past three years, on the notion that art in public environments can embody people’s history, experiences and hopes and, therefore, contribute to a community’s sense of its identity, supporting social connectedness and wellbeing.
The COVID-19 pandemic sparked new, experimental approaches to tackling isolation and anxiety through creativity. Not only did these prove to be effective, but they were pivotal to promoting resilience, inclusivity, and a more socially just access to health and wellbeing through, for example, radical health, creative health, and social prescribing.
Dr Cologni's research in particular has highlighted how covid lockdowns affected our habitual experience of place. Boundaries between private spaces (traditionally associated with care and feminity) and public spaces (traditionally associated with politics and masculinity) became more porous.
Additionally, art moved from dedicated arts spaces to outdoor and digital spaces, reaching new, unexpected audiences.
The session therefore explored the role of art in ‘making our cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’ – the 11th of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) – and therefore improving people's health and wellbeing, with a particular focus on carers.
Another event will take place in June 2023.